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Web Development

Building a self-made Professional Website – made (fairly) easy

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How do I make a professional web-site, by myself?Web connectivity

I am often asked, by acquaintances, how to make a professional web-site by themselves, if they haven’t the funds to get a professional web-site builder to make one, for them.

I will always recommend getting at least the advice of a professional, such as myself, before even beginning to think about it. There is a lot more to having a successful web-site improve your public profile or business standing, than meets the eye, at first glance.

However, I also encourage them to do as much of the work by themselves, as possible. Minimizing the necessary professional advice, not only reduces the cost, but also allows a far greater customization of the site.

Do as much as you can, yourself.

Do as much as you can, yourself

If your aim is to actually improve business or sponsorship, online, then it is even more important to get professional advice. E-commerce applications or even booking systems, for example, do require a considerable amount of thinking out and security, search engine optimization, accessibility and standardization are important issues.

However, the more that one learns to do by oneself, the lower the cost of the professional work required. Therefore, I provide, here, a few clues, as to where to start and what to consider, first.

Where to begin?

Where do I begin?A great many aspiring web-site builders begin with the graphic design, with the intention of filling in the content, later. Many people gather a great deal of content, before considering how this will be assimilated into a feasible web-site. Which is the best approach?

The simple answer is neither. They are both valid paths but I believe, as a professional, that there is a far better starting point, than either of these.

Consider a work of art. One could simply start with a head full of ideas and then attempt to find a way to display these ideas to the art-lover. One could also start with a blank mind-set and allow the natural forces to guide the muse.

Both of these are valid methods of creating art, but there is a better approach of the sort that is generally taught in art schools, to aspiring graphic professionals, for example. That is to begin with a conceptual sketch and fill this skeletal construction in, as the concept develops. In architecture or engineering, for example, this approach is almost always used. Blueprints are designed, long before any construction commences.

This is the approach that I would always recommend. Before beginning to actually build the site, consider its organizational concepts. The easiest way to do this, for a web-site, is to build the menu first.

Content is King!

Content is king!As you are building the menu system, you will find yourself automatically considering what sort of content will be available to the visitor, when they click the menu item. It is the content that will drive a web-site.

Notice that we haven’t even considered how the site will look, yet. We shouldn’t, because the content is what brings visitors to a site, not the appearance. I am not saying that appearance is not important, but it should be thought of as the packaging for the product, not the product itself.

Of course, graphical appearance should be considered, even at this stage, but not given a high priority, yet. A site should have organization, first and foremost. With organization, there will be a far simpler path to upgrading, adding content to and maintaining the site. All of these activities are essential tasks for the future of a web-site, which must be considered along with the initial launch.

Graphic design, eventually…

Graphic designTake a look at CSS Zen Garden. Here is a site that uses a single page of content and provides a wealth of ways in which that content can be displayed.

When there is already an organizational system and the concept of a navigational methodology, that allows easy and intuitive access, for the visitor, to any part of the site, the graphical appearance of the site may be considered.

A logo, house-style, names and slogans, etc. may now be finallized and a template should be considered. A template is a set of layout structures and basic graphics, that fit those structures. How is the header to appear? How are the menu or menus to show up on the site? If there is to be a footer, how should it look? What will be the way in which the front page will be displayed? Is there to be an introductory page that will appear before the site, itself is actually reached? How is the colour scheme to be used? All these questions and many more need to be answered by the site owner, before a template is chosen.

The template is analogically equivalent to the wrapping paper around the content and can be purchased or obtained freely, from various places on the web. However, the way in which the paper is cut and folded, decorated with ribbons and bows etc. is a matter of professional work and should never be attempted by an amateur. Generally, with a well-chosen template, very little of this should be necessary.

Before Launching the site…

Launching the siteThere is a great deal to consider, even after the structure, initial content and graphical design is completed. This includes:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which brings people to the site, since optimizing your site help poeople being able to find in search engines, and there are even services like Link Fire SEO that help businesses with this.

Accessibility, which allows the site to be usable to disabled people and those with more simple browsing devices, such as mobile phones.

Standardization, which ensures compliance with the standards that have been negotiated over the years, under the aegis of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Security, which ensures that the site is not hacked, intruded upon by malicious persons or compromised in any other way. This is particularly important for sites that are involved in any sort of commercial activity, but also is highly important for all sites.

Hosting, which provides a place that the files that make up the site, including its database, actually reside. This is usually a paid service that provides good Internet connectivity to the site, from anywhere in the world. This is almost always a paid service and can cost from tens to hundreds of Dollars/Pounds/Euros per year, depending upon quality and services provided.

Professional designers or amateurs?

Pro vs Amateur

In conclusion, I should point out that, as should be clear from the above, the help of a professional is more than useful, but your own work or the work of cheaper semi-professional and amateur friends, makes a perfectly valid contribution to a quality site.

16 comments to Building a self-made Professional Website – made (fairly) easy

  • An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this subject here on your site.

  • Good website! I really love how it is easy on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!

  • Just checking in. Quality web-site

  • I just book marked your blog on Digg and StumbleUpon.I enjoy reading your commentaries.

  • A question often asked. The answer is both simple and complex.
    The simple answer is that anyone can do it. Everything you need to know is easily available, same as it is to a professional SEO company.
    Be prepared to study long and hard to understand how Search engines work.
    However, to add complexity, be aware that it is more of an art than a science. Search engine algorithms are changing all the time and one has to keep oneself informed.
    There is nothing like experimentation over time to see what works and what doesn’t.
    Professional SEO companies are usually selling a turd in a fancy package, so beware of their nonsense.
    A good Web Development Consultant, such as myself, can do as well, in addition to everything else that we do.
    However, as your mail comes from a company called Guaranteed SEO Services, I suspect ulterior motives in your inquiry.

  • What ought to I do to get my web-site for the top of google do I have to have to hire an seo company or can I do it myself thanks for the help

  • I certainly like your web site layout it’s so clean, simple to read.

  • Could you please translate your blog into Italian because I’m not so comfortable reading it in English? I’m getting tired of using Google Translate all the time, there is a handy WordPress plugin called like global translator which will translate all your articles by default- this will make reading articleson your awesome blog even more cosy. Cheers mate, Jarvis Beger!

  • I think that is an interesting point, it made me think a bit. Thanks for sparking my thinking cap. Sometimes I get so much in a rut that I just feel like a record.

  • Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner

  • ray

    Kind of you to say so, John. 🙂 I blog irregularly – only if there’s something worth saying. You are welcome to my feed. If quoting my words, please give my company name & URL – Goaheadspace, Amsterdam, (Creative Commons share-alike non-commercial license)… and BTW there’s nothing wrong with your English. 🙂

  • Just want to say your article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the ac complished work. Excuse my poor English. English is not my mother tongue.

  • The information presented is top notch. I’ve been doing some research on the topic and this post answered several questions.

  • Hello,I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.

  • ray

    Thanks to all commenters for the encouragement.

  • Hello,I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.

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